Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at the Olympic Stadium was bad enough already as it dropped Chelsea out of first place into third, with both Liverpool and Manchester City winning, but adding the literal injuries to those insults were the knocks to Kai Havertz and Marcos Alonso, which forced head coach Thomas Tuchel into changes that negatively affected our performance — and now add yet another fitness concern going forward.
Chelsea’s level of play dropped noticeably in the second half, following Romelu Lukaku’s half-time introduction, while Callum Hudson-Odoi having to deputize for Marcos Alonso for the final 20 minutes created multiple dangerous opportunities on that flank for the hosts as well. Some of that may be coincidence rather than cause-and-effect, but as our squad numbers dwindle and the workload remains as high as ever, the cumulative effect of minutes and fatigue really start to add up.
“Kai has huge pain, Marcos Alonso has back pain, so that is another two substitutes due to injury. We have to deal with it.”
“I actually have no idea when [Kanté] will be back and we are missing not only N’Golo, also Mateo Kovačić since five or six weeks ago. Jorgi is playing with hip pain for many matchdays and you can see it. That is the situation.”
This isn’t meant as an excuse — Tuchel put the last week’s bad results squarely down to massive individual mistakes (though fatigue can also be mental, not just physical) — it’s simply the reality of the situation. Chelsea have had more than our fair share of injuries, while they’ve been largely ignored in the media narrative, they still have had a tangible effect on our performances and team selections.
As ever, it’s up to those fit and available to step up and keep stepping up.
“We have some overloaded players, yes. This is not an excuse and I will say overload and if you look at our schedule, there is no escape and this is exactly where we struggle at the moment.
“[We] cannot give any excuses that we are tired. It is absolutely normal to be tired through the Premier League in winter, it is a question of precision, details, risk management, where you take it and where you absolutely don’t.
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Mistakes were made. We may not be able to control injuries and we certainly can’t control the schedule, but if we can cut out the mistakes, tighten up at the back again and keep the good flowing football going up front, we can ensure that we won’t lose any more ground in the title race the rest of this month (and beyond) goes by.